At a time when theatre groups are innovating to keep their practice alive and fight the gloom of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mumbai-based group, The Company Theatre, has come up with an online festival of 15 short films adapted from drama sourced from around the globe. Keeping in mind corona restrictions, all the films have been created remotely — right from auditioning to filming to post-production.
Actor, founder member of TCT and one of the festival curators, Atul Kumar, spoke to The Daily Guardian about “TheatreFilmTheatre”, an online theatre festival, and how artists are coping up with Covid-19. Excerpts:
Q. What made The Company Theatre come up with “TheatreFilmTheatre”?
A. These have been some extraordinary times and no one really envisaged that we will go through such a mess in every part of our lives professionally, economically, health wise and even psychologically. Artists all over the world are wondering what the future holds with gaping eyes and performing artist have been hit the worst. Many artists, during this lockdown with the uncertainty of the future, are under real mental duress. The Company Theatre realised the worth of having work, purpose and a creative drive that could keep the community together and people engaged in healthy activity. So we decided to ask young filmmakers to pick up theatre scripts and cast theatre actors in and make short films. We didn’t care about what kind of films were made as long as people worked with each other across cities and towns and different languages and remotely creating magic! That’s all the purpose of this project was, is.
Q. With recorded plays and forms like Zoom theatre gaining popularity, why was the short film the desired format for showcasing drama?
A. We all know very well, and you have heard this again and again, that filmed versions of performed theatre in theatre spaces has failed to keep the audience’s attention. Even the best of theatre shot on 15 camera setups by the best of international and wellendowed theatre organisations kept your attention only for that bleak period. There is no doubt that theatre is a live medium and must be shared in the same time and space between audiences and actors. Since that is not available to us, and perhaps won’t be for a long time to come, we need to find ways to continue telling stories in theatrical ways within the limitations we have. The computerised world is that only possibility presently, so be it. We decided to try out various different formats — film is just one of the formats. Then there are others and we are up with many other works that are in the making.
Q. Producing a short film can be labour-intensive, and surely it could not have been any easier with everybody at home under lockdown. How did the performers, directors and technicians manage to put the films together?
A. Human endeavour can be most surprising, as we all know. And the best of us (and obviously, also the worst of us) comes out when we are conflicted. The artists worked remotely with others across towns and cities, relying only on the Internet and their passion for the arts. Some, of course, were in the same spaces and took all Covid precautions and created films somehow, against all odds like the lack of equipment, resources and absolutely no money at all.
Q. How was the process of curating these short films for an online festival?
A. Joyous. Especially because it was during these tough times. The first few weeks into the lockdown, it had felt like an abyss. Like the rabbit’s hole, really! And then one found a purpose and some friends who were in the same boat. We joined hands, and meetings on Zoom, late-night phone calls, jokes and stories kept our spirits high. We even placed bets about how many actors and filmmakers will finally join us! It was all done in a fun and cheerful way and although I am sure all of us in the curatorial team are inclined differently aesthetically, we aligned in some strange way, driven by something larger. That is very reassuring.
The artists involved were mostly first-time filmmakers or working on their second or third experiments. And these were precisely the artists we wanted to hold hands with — not the established ones, since we knew they will find their way anyway. The others needed that doorway which we jointly created.
Q. With artists and theatre companies worldwide complaining about their incomes being hit during the pandemic, what made the performers decide to work pro bono and the TCT to put up the films on YouTube for free viewing?
A. We are going to do a hat collection. Donate what you can and will to support the films, filmmakers, artists involved and the general idea of supporting the arts being an ‘essential’ commodity in our lives. Theatre has already struggled a lot with paid viewing online, let alone with complaints about ticket prices for live shows. In these extraordinary times when everyone is squeezed a bit, we thought it would be too much if we charged tickets for this festival. Let’s just get the wheel rolling, then we can slowly go back to normal ticketing. Although we are creating other projects, and our next theatre production “parables of sinister misdeeds committed in this house” will be played online and be ticketed. We are just testing waters now, like everyone else. Of course, we all have to make a living, so things will change, if they will change. Right now, I am just happy and grateful that we could reach here while so many others couldn’t.
‘TheatreFilmTheatre’ will premiere on The Company Theatre’s YouTube channel on 30 August 2020. More information can be found on their website and Facebook page.
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CAMERA AND EMPOWERMENT: EMMA’S BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM LOCKDOWN
WASHINGTON: Coronavirus lockdown acted as a blessing in disguise for many people as they got ample time to learn new things. Emma Watson also made her lockdown days productive by learning how things play out behind the lens. On Wednesday, Watson took to Instagram to share her experience ‘getting behind the camera.’ “Getting behind the camera and learning how it works is about the most empowering thing I’ve learned in lockdown. As a young woman, I always thought the most glamorous and exciting thing would be to be someone’s “muse”; and of course as women, we are inspiring… but wow it’s something else to be able to tell your own story and other people’s,” she wrote.
The ‘Harry Potter’ actress also posted a string of images of her holding a professional camera in her hands.
Meanwhile, Watson recently served as a presenter during Earthshot Prize Awards, which was hosted by Prince William and Kate Middleton.
HRITHIK WRAPS UP FIRST ACTION SEQUENCE FOR ‘VIKRAM VEDHA’
NEW DELHI: Hrithik Roshan has recently wrapped up the action sequence of his upcoming film ‘Vikram Vedha’.
Taking to their Instagram handle, few stuntmen posted pictures with Hrithik and announced the wrap-up of ‘one of the craziest action sequences ever.’ Stunt artist Mansoor Ali Khan shared a series of pictures from the shoot sets and wrote, “First craziest action sequence have done! Cheer’s to @hrithikroshan @parvez.shaikhh @stuntindia1 and all the stunt boys!”
Another stunt artist Anup also shared a picture featuring himself with Hrithik and wrote, “Wrapped up the first action sequence of Vikram Vedha. A big ‘Thank you’ to @parvez.shaikhh sir for this opportunity. Wouldn’t have been possible without you @hrithikroshan.”
Going by the locations mentioned by both the accounts, the action sequences were shot at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The upcoming project is the Hindi remake of the 2017 Tamil film ‘Vikram Vedha’. The movie is being directed by the makers of the original film, Pushkar-Gayathri, and produced by Neeraj Pandey under his company Friday Filmworks in association with Reliance Entertainment and Y Not Studios. Saif Ali Khan is also a part of the movie.
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WASHINGTON: Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance are reuniting for ‘Wolfman’, the latest monster movie from Universal Pictures.
Gosling and Cianfrance previously teamed up on the Oscar-nominated romantic drama ‘Blue Valentine’ and the acclaimed thriller ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’. As per Variety, Cianfrance is taking over directing duties from Leigh Whannell, who had to drop out of the project due to a scheduling conflict. Cianfrance will also write the script for the upcoming project.
It is not clear what the new version of ‘Wolfman’ will look like but the movie is expected to be a modern take on the story about a man who is bitten and transforms into a werewolf.
Speaking about the upcoming movie, Cianfrance said, “Horror movies were my first love—my entry into what cinema was capable of narratively, psychologically, and aesthetically. Coupled with the opportunity to collaborate with Gosling again, this is truly a dream come true. I’m thrilled and inspired to work with the good folks at Blumhouse and Universal to bring this monster back to life in our collective unconscious.”
It’s been nearly 80 years since Wolfman first appeared on the big screen, in the 1941 adaptation starring Lon Chaney Jr., the beastly character was revived in the studio’s 2010 remake, starring Benicio del Toro as an American actor who is bitten and cursed by a werewolf.
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MUMBAI: During the latest episode of the ‘Raising Parents with Mansi Zaveri’ podcast, Kareena Kapoor Khan, the mother of two children, has urged people to not make a taboo of late pregnancy.
“I never planned having a baby because you know I was like in 36 or Oh my biological clock is ticking so I need to speed it up or whatever. That was not even a thought or discussion because I was like I married Saif for love. I did that. I wanted to have a child so I did it. It so happened. I didn’t give much thought because my thought was always on my work and you know being happy and content with myself. So I don’t think late mothers should have this pressure,” said Kareena.
Kareena was 36 when she welcomed her first child Taimur with Saif Ali Khan in 2016. After five years, in February 2021, she turned mother again as she gave birth to her son Jeh.
BHUMI JOINS RAJKUMMAR IN ‘BHEED’
WASHINGTON: Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar will not only be seen together in ‘Badhaai Do’ but will also share screen space in ‘Bheed’.
Helmed by Anubhav Sinha, ‘Bheed’ is touted as a socio-political drama, which will be shot across Lucknow. Happy to come on board for the film, Bhumi said, “Being part of an Anubhav Sinha film is a matter of great honour and privilege. He shares my value system in believing that movies have the power to shift mindsets. As artists, the responsibility of telling such stories lies with us. This is a crackling subject and I can’t wait to get on to the journey of this film.”
The movie’s announcement was made earlier this month, revealing Rajkummar as the lead. He had also expressed his joy on bagging ‘Bheed’. “I have always found myself gravitating towards stories that trigger conversation. Even as an entertainer, I want my work to get people thinking. This is an important subject and the character needs me to stretch myself as an artist, beyond my comfort zone. I can’t wait to start shooting and lose myself in this universe,” Rajkummar had said.
‘Bheed’ is jointly produced by Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series and Anubhav’s Benaras Mediaworks.
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MUMBAI: Ayushmann Khurrana, who is known for choosing movies with social messages and serious takeaways, recently teased viewers by saying that they should “expect the unexpected” from his next four films.
Ayushmann’s stellar line-up includes Abhishek Kapoor’s ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’, Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Anek’, Anubhuti Kashyap’s ‘Doctor G’ and filmmaker Aanand L. Rai’s next production venture ‘Action Hero’, which is being helmed by debutant Anirudh Iyer. Speaking about his stellar slate of disruptive projects, Ayushmann said, “It is hugely exciting for me to collaborate with some master storytellers who have some disruptive stories to tell and inspire audiences with. I want to tell audiences to expect the unexpected from my next four films.”
He added, “I have been fortunate enough to get some remarkable scripts ever since my debut and be part of incredible visions of powerful filmmakers wanting to make a difference to society. The storytellers of these films have some brilliant concepts that people haven’t seen on screen before and that’s what makes them really special for me.”
Ayushmann considers himself an entertainer who is looking to deliver a positive message to society through his films. The actor wrapped up the filming of ‘Doctor G’ in September. The upcoming movie, which also stars Rakul Preet Singh and Shefali Shah in key roles, will be based on a campus of a medical institute.
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